Bible insights from your friends at La Jolla Lutheran Church


God wants to be first in your life

Jesus said that people who want to follow him should count the cost first and be sure they are willing to pay it. And the cost is steep. "None of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions."

For a rich young ruler that Jesus met, that price was too much. The young man left Jesus shocked and grieving. He had wanted to be part of God's kingdom, but he didn't want to give up all he owned. For Abraham and Sarah, giving up all their possessions included giving up their son Isaac and the dream God had given them.

God wants to be first in your life, above all else. God wants to be first, even above the promises God has made to you. God wants to be first, even above the goals and dreams God has given you.

This week we'll explore Bible verses relating to this very challenging topic. If you missed the message on Sunday, you can check it out at the right. The verses below will help you think about this important topic all week.

Monday Luke 14:31-33 (NRSV)
[Jesus said,] “What king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”

Have you given up all your possessions?
Which ones are you still holding on to?
What do you think Jesus means?

Tuesday 1 Timothy 6:9-11 (NRSV)
Those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.

Many followers of God in the Bible were rich, including Abraham and Sarah and Solomon. In addition, rich people often began following God, including Matthew and Zaccheaus. In today’s passage, Paul told Timothy that he should avoid the love of money. Do you think this advice is for everyone?

Do you want to be rich?
Do you think that everyone who wants to be rich falls into temptation and is trapped by many senseless and harmful desires?

Wednesday Hebrews 13:5 (NRSV)
Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, "I will never leave you or forsake you."

How content are you with what you have?
How much do you desire things you don’t have?

Thursday

Abraham’s dad Terah was planning to move the family to Canaan, but when Terah came to Haran, they settled there. (Genesis 11:31) When Terah died, God told Abraham to complete the journey to Canaan and promised to make him a great nation. Abraham was 75 at the time. (Genesis 12:1-4) This promise was renewed in Canaan several times (Genesis 12:7, Genesis 13:14-17, Genesis 15:1-6, and Genesis 16:18-21). But ten years after the initial promise, Abraham and Sarah remained childless. Sarah gave Abraham her maid so he could father a child through her. That child was named Ishmael. Twenty-four years after the original promise, when Abraham was 99 and Sarah 89, God again renewed his promise to Abraham and said the promise included Sarah, still barren.

Genesis 17:17-21 (NRSV):
Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said to himself, "Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Can Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?" And Abraham said to God, "O that Ishmael might live in your sight!" God said, "No, but your wife Sarah shall bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. As for Ishmael, I have heard you; I will bless him and make him fruitful and exceedingly numerous; he shall be the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this season next year."

What promises of God have you seen fulfilled?
What promises of God are you still waiting to see accomplished?

Friday Genesis 22:1-2, 9-12 (NRSV)
After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.". . . .

When they came to the place that God had shown him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to kill his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am." He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me."

This is one of the most difficult stories in the Bible. God had promised Abraham descendants and told him they would all come through Isaac. But in this passage, God told Abraham to kill Isaac.

What do you think about this part of Abraham’s story?
Have you ever felt you needed to give up something you loved?
Did you ever get it back?
What do you think of God’s desire to be first in your life, above even the dreams God has given you?

Saturday Exodus 20:1-6 (NRSV)
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

The first commandment God gave to the people of Israel was that they should have no other gods.

What kinds of things do people have as gods today?
Which kinds of things do you put ahead of God?
What do you want to do about it?

(A random question just for fun:) What is a book you’ve enjoyed reading?

Two more serious questions:
What are you doing this week because you follow Jesus?
What would you like help with?